Belarus seeks alternative to Russian oil
Belarus has sent offers to purchase oil to enterprises in Ukraine, Poland, the Baltics, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, said Belarusian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Krutoy, as cited by Belta. According to him, the commercial services of the Belarusian Oil Company’s plants are involved in daily negotiations regarding possible oil deliveries.
Latvia has already said that it is willing to participate in reverse oil deliveries to Belarus, said Latvian Ambassador to Minsk Einars Semanis ahead of a visit by the Latvian prime minister to Belarus.
Recently Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko ordered an investigation of the possibility of delivering oil by railway from Baltic ports, as well as of using the Druzhba oil pipeline in reverse. Since January 1, Russian companies’ deliveries of oil to Belarus have stopped due disagreements regarding the oil price and transit tariffs. Belarus is also seeking compensation for a Russian tax maneuver in the oil sector which caused significant losses to Belarusian oil refineries. The previous contracts between the two countries expired on December 31. The government in Minsk emphasizes that Belarus is an important consumer for Russia, receiving roughly 10% of Russia’s oil exports.
On January 1, Minsk was forced to suspend its exports of oil products and oil produced by the country. According to Interfax, the only Russian oil companies to cooperate with Belarus are Russneft and Neftisa, part of billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev’s Safmar group, which is building the Nezhinsky facility for mining potassium ores and producing potassium fertilizers in Belarus.